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Bolt-On Battle - Four Valve Fight
Which naturally aspirates four-valve Mustangs make the most of bolt-on mods?
Regular followers of 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords are aware that our tech projects typically cover various ways of taking '86-to-present, V-8-powered Mustangs to the next level. This usually entails removing original equipment and installing bolt-on parts that promote increased horsepower and torque at the rear wheels.
While a test 'Stang's response to mods usually are presented in total, through charts and graphs of baseline and post-installation dyno runs, we recently experimented with a new method of evaluating Mustang performance, which really seems to be a hit. Our latest test practice involves bringing groups of stock Ponies and their parts together for showdowns—on the chassis dyno, of course—that ultimately prove which Mustang-engine platform makes the most of basic swappables: cold-air induction, throttle body, after-cat exhaust, and tuning.
How is that different from any other dyno test? Well, while dyno runs certainly are pivotal elements of both formats, the big difference with these tests is that we use completely stock Mustangs, and compare performance differences from a percentage-increase standpoint, as opposed to a breakdown of overall power gain.
The first showdown took place in June 2012 at GTR High Performance in Rancho Cucamonga, California, where bone-stock representatives from the four most popular EFI Mustang platforms ('87-'93, '99-'04, '05-'10 and '11-'13) were equipped with the same bolt-ons. It's important to understand that by saying the "same" groups of basic parts, we mean the cold-air systems, throttle bodies, and exhaust sets all are relatively close in size and design, and all the components were sourced from the same companies. This is a requirement that remains constant for this and all future battles.
"Quite simply our first Bolt-On Battle story turned out so well, that we thought it would be fun to use the same concept to compare how other Mustangs stack up to one another when bolt-ons are added," Editor Steve Turner said. "Since the Coyote is the latest iteration of the Four-Valve modular engine, it only seemed logical to compare it with its naturally aspirated older brothers. So, in addition to a 5.0-powered '13 GT, our test group this time is comprised of a '97 Cobra, an '01 Cobra, and an '03 Mach."
While we're following the same test guidelines that were established in the first piece ( "The Main Event," Oct. '12, p. 52), and once-again using BBK Performance's throttle bodies and SCT tuning by Chris Jones of Blow-By Racing, we changed our lineup of maufacturers to keep things fresh. For this effort, we made a switch to cold-air systems from JLT Performance, and we're installing Flowmaster's after-cat exhaust kits only, on our control set of 'Stangs.
The fine technicians at GTR once again took care of installation and dyno tasks, while Tech Editor KJ Jones handled the photos and record keeping for all of the data you're about to take in. If you like this format, please let us know. The battle might just rage on!
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Horse Sense: "Most people are on a tighter budget these days, so maximizing the benefits of your bolt-on dollar is even more important," Editor Steve Turner explained. "With any luck, this series will help you determine what combination to pursue with your project, be it for your current ride or one you are planning to buy."